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August 16, 2017

Who Will Take Care of Your Pet After Your Death?

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By:  Patricia McHugh Lambert, Esquire

Have you ever wondered who will take care of your pet after your death? Maryland has a pet trust law allowing owners to set aside funds for their pet’s care and to provide for a care taking system for their pet. By way of the pet trust, a caregiver is appointed and at least one backup caregiver is designated. Depending on the age and life expectancy of the pet, additional caregivers can and should be designated. A trustee is also appointed to ensure the caregiver is doing his or her job. While the two can be the same, the preferred practice is to appoint separate caregivers and trustees to allow for a checks and balances system. The caregiver should be someone who has an affinity for the pet and understands the pet and the type of care it needs. In cases of owners with multiple or different types of pets, the caregivers designated for the different pets may be different. Other options include providing directions for the pets’ health care needs, as well as a preferred veterinarian and burial/cremation plans for your pet. Benefits of the pet trust also include protection of the money designated for your pet and the assurance that it will last for the duration of the pet’s life, the ability to designate where the remaining funds will go (family member, charity, etc.) after your pet’s death, and the assurance that the trust’s funds will not be subject to the caregiver’s heirs creditors, marital disputes or bankruptcy. There are, of course, liability issues and insurance issues that need to be explored whenever there is a pet trust.

Patricia McHughLambert has over 35 years of experience in handling complex commercial litigation and insurance matters. Ms. Lambert has worked on national class actions, significant litigation and regulatory matters for Fortune 500 companies. She has also assisted small and mid-sized companies and business executives with contract, real estate and commercial disputes that needed to be resolved quickly and efficiently. Ms. Lambert is best known as an attorney who knows the field of insurance. She has represented insurers, policyholders, and insurance producers in disputes both in court and before the Maryland Insurance Administration.  Ms. Lambert can be contacted at 410-339-6759 and plambert@pklaw.com.